Nimbus adds some non-cricket sports to its plate

MUMBAI: "The next big opportunity area in Indian sport after cricket will be football."


Wishful thinking? Not if you ask Nimbus Communications executive chairman Harish Thawani.

With a very successful conclusion of the cricket World Cup behind World Sport Nimbus (a 50:50 JV with World Sport Group), Thawani is now looking beyond cricket to other areas in the sports broadcast, marketing and management arena.

One big project (if it takes off that is) could be the Jawaharlal Nehru Cup international football tournament, which WSN is contemplating resurrecting. The tournament has been in limbo since 1997 with on and off talk of its revival (the last time was in May 2002 by All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi).

Says Thawani: "We will bring football events to India. We've been asked to rejigg the Nehru International soccer tourney and take it up on a long-term contract. It's a great tournament that didn't make its mark which we believe has to do with the quality of brand management that goes into running an international event. Our partners (WSG) are in charge of the Asian Football Confederation. The entire Asian circuit is handled by them so there is strong expertise already in the group for football."

"We haven't said yes yet (to the Nehru Cup) so I can't definitely say we will be doing it this year. If not we will be doing something else in football because we believe it is the next big opportunity area."

Though football still remains only an opportunity for Nimbus, more definite projects on the immediate horizon are bowling, snooker and golf.

"We've been signed on by the World Bowling Federation and we are managing the World Bowling Championships in Malaysia in August-September, doing the TV production and the worldwide distribution," asserts Thawani. "We've just been signed on by the World Snooker Federation as the Asian leg franchisee," he adds.

Speaking of golf he says, "In a quick rollout we are bringing more golf events to India because of our affiliation through our partner with the Asian PGA."

Queried as to whether hockey, which is currently seeing some sort of a revival in the country, would get a look-in, Thawani replies in the negative. "Hockey is a non-television game. It's too fast moving, the ball is too small, and there are not enough breaks. Squash and badminton face the same problems. If it is too fast moving a sport, if the object, the ball, is too small, and if you don't have enough breaks, that's death as far as television is concerned," he says.

Football, with just one half time interval as a break, happens to be by far the world's most popular sport. But that could be said to be the exception that proves the rule.

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